The New Three-Part Fundraising Ask for Times of Crisis

It’s time to shape up your fundraising ask.

Successful nonprofits are approaching donors differently these days – with a different type of ask.

It’s much, much more personal, authentic, and quite transparent about money. Unusually so!

Here’s the 3-Step Fundraising Ask formula that we are recommending to all our capital campaign and major gifts clients.

This ask works almost every time – and results in a happy donor, a closer relationship with the donor and new investments in your work.

Digital or on the Phone?

This ask works well for both phone and in digital communications. Of course, the phone is more powerful because you and your donor can have a direct conversation.

And you can establish friendly rapport, and take your cue from the donor’s questions and reactions.

But successful digital appeals are applying this approach very successfully too. It works in any format.

This is Good Basic Standard Fundraising Practice

Disclaimer: This is simply best practice that we have been recommending a long time.

And you should have been doing this all along. So, yes, this is not a “new” approach.

The 3-Step Fundraising Ask

1. Open with a warm, personal connection to the reader or listener.

On the phone, open with this:

“Ms. Donor this is Mary Smith from xxxx organization, and we are calling to say hello and to thank you for partnering with us. We so appreciate your support. How are you doing?

(If appropriate, add this because many of your donors are older: Can we do anything for you?)

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Thank you so much for your help, support of xxxx cause or organization. We hope you are doing ok in these turbulent times. All of us want to let you know how much we appreciate and value your partnership . . .

Note: Your TONE is warm, personal, authentic, friendly.

It is a person to person communication. It sounds like one person wrote it to another person.

The change in tone might be the most important shift from the old practices that too many nonprofits have been applying.

What’s Gone?  

The formalities. The acronyms. The organizational “we.” The grandiose bragging about your organization’s successes.

What’s New?

The personal touch. The heart-felt comment. The warm and friendly energy of a person connecting to another person.

2. Share detailed, transparent information on what’s happening at your organization.

What’s Gone?

The general and nonspecific ask to support the Mission, programs and services, or the “work.”  No vague and bland words like “underserved.”

What’s New?

Suddenly everyone is being transparent about money. They are being specific. What exactly is happening to the Mission or the work?

For example, the ballerinas are on furlough with nowhere to practice. The land trust is unable to save an important swamp. The students don’t have any place to live. People are hungry. They are losing their jobs.

This is the time to be completely explicit about the situation. Don’t mince words.

3. A permission-based gentle ask that is an “invitation.”

By now, your donor – if she is loyal and passionate about your mission – is emotionally engaged and worried about the situation. You have evoked an emotion – and we all know that giving is an emotional act.

If you are on the phone, she is probably saying, “How can I help?”

If she does not say “how can I help”, then you can ask her permission:

“Would you like to know how you could help?”

And you have just opened the ask conversation. If she says yes, you can move right to an ask.

For a digital format:

“We really need the help of our supporters now – and if you are able, we would welcome your contribution to fund – (talk about specifics that need to happen right now).

This is a lovely, gentle and personal way to approach a donor.

Here’s a success story from Gershon Lewis in Israel – who applied our fundraising ask approach with an important donor:

Based upon your previous crisis advice, I recently asked a long-term donor to help us more with his regular May gift because . . .  we expect some donors will give less or not at all –

He said:  “OK, I’ll double my donation.”  

Thank you Gail! 

Bottom Line: The 3-Part Fundraising Ask for Times of Crisis.

I hope you and your team will apply this approach – you should see generous donors responding quickly.

What do you think? Leave us a comment below: